A new first of its kind 'Eco Bridge' has been built by the Uttarakhand's forest department across the two-lane Kaladhungi-Nainital highway with a focus to help reptiles cross roads. The 90-foot-long Eco Bridge structure made up of bamboo, jute, and grass took over a period of 10 days at a cost of Rs 2 lakh. The Kaladhungi-Nainital highway is the main route to Nainital. Everyday large number of vehicles, especially in the tourist season passes by this area.
The adjoining jungle is the resident to lizards, snakes, including pythons, rodent squirrels, and monkeys. Due to frequent passing vehicles, the reptiles frequently get crushed under the passing vehicles. The bridge which is 5-foot-wide, 40-foot-high can take the weight of three adult humans, and forest officials said they hope it would be used by even by the leopards. Ramnagar Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Chandra Shekhar Joshi said that the bridge, will be monitored by four camera traps, will be studied as a model by the Forest Department.
Joshi said at a point where the road arcs in a wide `U` the bridge has been made and vehicles going downhill often travel at high speed. It is expected that by reducing the need for sudden braking in front of a crossing animal, the road will be safer for human beings too. Creepers will be grown on the bridge and also will be layered with grass and leaves to attract reptiles and other small animals to the bridge. Few exclusive boards were to be put up on awareness creation of the need to protect reptiles. To avoid people taking selfies over the bridge, Forest staff would patrol the area, he added.